A Palestinian resident of Hebron in the occupied West Bank was forced by armed Israeli soldiers to pull down a Palestinian flag from his roof on Saturday after an Israeli settler tried to climb onto his roof and remove it himself.
Video footage released by B’Tselem (here below) was filmed by Shadi Sidr, who lives in the Israeli-controlled H2 area of Hebron, caught a settler on tape trespassing onto his property to try and remove his Palestinian flag from the roof, but getting caught in the barbwire fence and eventually forced to retreat. Several minutes later, five armed Israeli soldiers come up to the roof and threatened to arrest him if he did not pull down the flag.
According to Israeli military rule, soldiers can order any person to remove a flag or other symbol or sign if they deem it to be a threat to the public peace/security. The irony of course is that the settler was the one breaking into Sidr’s home and the one provoking a confrontation. Sider was keeping to himself, bothering no one, surrounded by heckling settlers. But of course, waving a Palestinian flag in your own home in the occupied West Bank is too much. It warrants the invasion of settlers and soldiers into your home and threats of arrest. The term “occupation” is thrown around a lot, but this incident is a blatantly simple and infuriating manifestation of just what it means to live under occupation – surrounded by hostile people who are protected by soldiers who can tell you what to do in the privacy of your own home.
In the first video, Sidr asks the settler why he is trying to get on his roof when he has a perfectly functional front door and he replies that he just wants to talk, but dozens more settlers can be seen down below watching him and egging him on to do try and get the flag down. Once it is clear he can’t make it past the barbwire, Sidr tries to help him climb back down the ladder, but several settlers are heard in the background screaming at him not to touch him. While the settler is there trapped, Sidr tells him he is welcome in his home, but not by breaking in. The settler replies that his roof and all the land belongs to him, because it is part of the Land of Israel. Sidr replies it is Palestine here, not Tel Aviv. “This is my land,” the settler repeats.
In the second and maybe most infuriating and unbelievable video, the soldier who must free the settler from the barbwire – the guy who is trespassing and should be reprimanded – tells Sadr to move back (in his own home) and that he is the provocateur.
In the third video, filmed by B’Tselem field researcher Manal Ja’bri, the soldiers are seen on Sidr’s roof demanding he take down his flag and threatening him with arrest.
According to a statement issued by B’Tselem, soldiers must ensure the safety of Palestinian individuals and cannot abandon a Palestinian to fend for himself in the face of a throng trying to gain access to his private residence. “The soldiers, responsible for maintaining security in the area, are first and foremost obliged to protect Palestinians who constitute the protected population of the West Bank. It goes without saying that soldiers must not aid and abet settlers trespassing on Palestinians’ homes or satisfy the whim of a settler displeased by the sight of Palestinian flag flying in Hebron.”